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Goals of Reform in the Christian Church
by Stephen Williamson
5/06/2011 / Church Life
There are many ideas for things we could do better and ways that we could draw in and keep people, but to what end? How do we make sense of it all? We need to get back to our roots, to the reasons for having church in the first place. What are those reasons?
Some will think to themselves, "I go to church to get excited about God". This is not biblical.
Philippians 3 (NIV)
3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh.
Colossians 2 (NIV)
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
From these we see that true worship is contrasted with the desires of the flesh and the principles of this world. Church is indeed a place of worship, but it is not strictly for our benefit. As it is written:
1 Chronicles 16 (NIV)
25 For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.
Others will think to themselves, "I go to church to grow spiritually". This is a good reason, but neither is it biblical in such a form.
1 Corinthians 14 (NIV)
12 So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.
Building up the Church takes priority over building up the self. So, we should not go to church to become better people, but to become better disciples of Christ. As it is written:
1 Corinthians 3 (NIV)
11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
This is where the focus of knowledge should be centered, not on ourselves or our relationships. When our passions and growth are centered on the self, church bears fruit of indulgence and pride; but when our passions and growth are centered on the message of good news that is the cornerstone of the Church, the congregation becomes grafted in to the vine of God's work, in order to bear fruit for Him.
So, the goal of church is not merely to promote religion, but to make disciples, and the goal of a reform should not be to make church more interesting, but to make it more useful to God in visible ways. Our pastors have been focusing on obedience and feelings, and our congregations have been doing nothing for Jesus. We need not worry about how many people are coming in; if the Holy Spirit is moving, then more people will be drawn in according to that movement. We need to correct our approach before we can address its impotencies. And what would this corrected approach be like? To repeat, the whole focus of knowledge should be centered on the message of Christ. If people have not heard the gospel, matured in its discernment, or advanced in its application, then the Church is not doing its assigned duty. The good news about Jesus is basic to church functioning.
And the good news about Jesus is this: that He died for us, giving up His own life to the Father as a sacrifice, so that people would be saved from sin and restored in their relationship with God, by repenting and believing in the Son who gave up His life for us.
By an ordinary writer who wants people to know the truth.
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